Sunday, October 24, 2010


The season has continued to be wet & mostly too cool for my preference, yet with enough warmth to encourage growth & blooms when most flora are aware of the shortening days. The garden has been a bit confused, along with the rest of us! This viburnum is blossoming a second time even as its leaves are turning...

[Clicking on the photos enlarges them... click again for full size.]

My camera has been challenged to catch images inside that lowering light. I've made some images forgetting that I'd bumped the the film speed up, rendering a grainy quality I would have tried to avoid, while giving some quality of mood which I rationalize as apropos.

Hollyhocks are favorite flowers from my childhood. These are the last of those in the garden...

One big joy has been the bounty of food available to my chef, although I am loath to harvest from the pink kale "roses" above. It has become trendy to make & share images of "food porn" on the Internet. As will become evident, I am not impervious to that notion, but my gardener would prefer to begin with food more truly "in the raw"!

Here in the north garden, which is in its third year being wrested from a steep dense clay slope, the purple cardoon blooms can be seen with the yellow umbels of bronze fennel

Cardoon is a thistle-cousin to artichoke, which it resembles. Its bud is inedible, but in France the stems are braised as a vegetable. Several have started from seed which survived composting in a bed of other greens seen beyond the smoke bush.... I'll transplant those cardoon to a drier border next spring. A couple of acorn squash volunteered rather too late in the foreground... they are involved in an improbable race to ripen!

But the Brussels sprouts [I've been trying to find why they are so named...] are beginning to find their way from the garden to our table. I've been experimenting with a recipe I found on the web for a salad of those buds raw, finely shaved with mint, dressed with a vinaigrette enriched & mellowed with toasted almond butter.

Now here are some shots of food on our table. Caprese is our favorite summer salad, fresh tomatoes from the local farmers market composed with slices of buffola [fresh Italian mozzarella made from water buffalo milk] dressed with pesto, atop greens [lettuces, Lacinata kale & purple orach] from the garden & garnished with blossoms [nasturtiums, arugula, kale] . Oh, now I spy a single snow pea which I suspect Stephen dropped alongside before he made the photo... I often do not have my camera at hand in the kitchen when I'm cooking. Thank you, M'Dear!

He captured this skillet of a succotash of fresh vegetables for me as well...

Here is lunch one day last month: An omelet topped with avocado accompanied a hash of vegetables from the previous night's dinner, garnished with the last of the season's fava beans... which I love best grilled in their husk... along with some of the pickled lentils I love to make.

Not having room for an orchard, we buy fruit. Pears are favorites for dessert. Here I paired one with champagne grapes & an excess of shaved chocolate. One of my mottoes has long been "Excess is best!"

A second version was grilled with a wonderful Gorgonzola & some pine nuts, plated with a puddle of warm marscapone softening chunks of dark chocolate... Armagnac to sip with. I wish I'd used the erection of the brass figure of Bes as the knife holder it was made to be. Playful friends sent us a pair from Istanbul & we use them with great amusement

A final pear joined the mushroom pies I made for dinner just a couple days ago. The crust was my first experiment using gluten-free flour. Each had a different base to the filling: one of curried lentil Dal, the other of sweet potato seasoned with smoked paprika & finely minced cedar needles, which my palate has been loving to dance with of late. Shitake mushrooms have been abundant, onions caramelized with garlic are constants, both pies were topped with these plus dollops of marscapone.

I made a special pastie for Stephen's flight to Mexico the next day, packed with a frond of that cedar.

Salmon is another favorite local food... perhaps caught in this net being hauled in below the Prow deck.

The reflection which inspired this post to begin with, before I got lost in the kitchen garden, was first seen, but missed as I hunted for my camera. The next day I was quicker & better prepared, anticipating the fleeting opportune moments of a freighter catching raking light of approaching sunset. I didn't plan the fulsome moon getting involved...

As the ship sailed through our view across the shipping lanes of the south Puget Sound, looking toward the city, that brilliant light caught the plates of the hull, turning them into gem facets of topaz... or the scales of a golden fish...

Meanwhile, back in the studio...
my birthday orchid has been joined by dahlias from the garden.

In this spell of solitude, I predictably find myself
seasonally settling inward...

Thursday, October 14, 2010


This view of Tahoma, wearing one of her lovely hats, distracted me from the garden on a recent evening. I'd been photographing the sedum blooms ripening from a rich pink toward their autumnal bronze coloration under a Lacinata kale in the lowering light.

[Remember... you may double click to enlarge photos.]

I love this season for the appearance of a rich plethora of resilient webbing spun by the maturing hunger of a zillion spiders feeding during breeding season for both themselves & their egg cases. While gorgeously decorating Soundcliff's windows, doorways & garden paths... they thus render me the destroyer of much craft, art & sculpture.

I wrote last year about spider webs but this year my camera has been seduced anew. Being so subtle as to be invisible in some light while another angle brings them into stunning reflection against dark background... they are deliciously elusive to capture with the lens. Finding the vantage point with good back-light against a low-keyed background, or shooting at night to catch that deeper contrast are interesting problems to solve. Raindrops included might be photographically trite but that's probably because they too are such a fine teaching tool!

I have been re-reading old journals, trying to find mentions of a particularly important project during the 1982-83 era. Today I found a description of watching a spider building its web in the space above my wax desk in the studio when I lived in Sedona, AZ.

I frequently discover synchronistic rhythms in my history relating to current life so this morning's serendipity stretches & stitches this story of arachnid interest over some 28 years. I'm reminded as well that I had a spider collection during my grade school years on the farm in Kansas... so all this spins much older still... even as I happily present a more respectful enjoyment than what would now be 50 year old vials of specimens in alcohol!

GRB Journal: 27 July 1982

What an amazing fantasy environment exists above my studio lamp! A tiny white spider caught my magni-visored eye. First sight was on a piece of wax from which I'd been taking bits with a hot tool... stringing out threads of my own. Running along the mandrel. Sticking his/her tail up doing a tippy-toe dance. 'Seemed to be tying something. No, its the ass that's doing. What a trip to tie knots with your ass! Oh! There goes a thread... he's shooting it out! Another dance as he winds up the slack fibre he's floated out, sticky enough to catch on the lamp above ! & in moments he's scampering up that ephemeral line -- his own projection. Real enough to crawl on. Of Himself. A chance hook on whatever the breeze took it to. Or is it chance? Is he playing the breeze & his line whipping it with studied English. Surfing that rip let of air. Aiming. Probably some of both. He must be whistling while he works. He does dance & dash. Floating suspended on an elegant construction. Up he goes. This time I know he has a previous line. A more well traveled path into areas of the corner I haven't recently disturbed by moving the lamp. The lamp is a hunting expedition. Home must be up near the ceiling-- he's got roads & even expressways up there. The web even near the light & with my magnification are almost invisible. Only when they catch the light, then even only after he follows one... traces dot-to-dot do my eyes focus on it! As I become aware I see the drawing. He's been busy! Neat stitching! ... Becomes almost space travel. He's out of sight... I followed with my mind & got lost on this page.

[ I've only slightly edited this entry, deciding to leave the male pronoun I mistakenly used, apparently identifying myself with what was no doubt a female, but cutting a short confusing tangential reference. It is curious to make a transcription of only a single page out of the thousands which exist in these journals.

This shot attempted to catch several versions of flight seen through our bathroom window... a papier-mache figure with feather wings inside & an iron crow sculpture out on the deck rail, with a web built floating on the breeze, it's real flight spans some 12 foot distance.

Some times I can't decide which shot I like best. I give you this choice:

Ephemeral beauty abounds !!!